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Evan Bayh’s “Regrets,” Redux

Last week, Jonathan Chait, I and a few others had our fun with former Indiana senator Evan Bayh’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing for repealing the medical device tax that is a key source of revenue for the Affordable Care Act. We noted that Bayh’s opposition to the tax that he approved in voting for the new law might have something to do with the fact mentioned in the tagline to the op-ed: that he now works for the lobbying/law firm McGuire Woods, which has clients opposed to the tax.

But say this for Bayh: at least he saw fit to mention that fact, however subtly, to let readers know where he was coming from on this score. That cannot be said for the overlords of the Journals editorial page, which on Tuesday ran a lead editorial framing Bayh’s op-ed, and recent comments by outgoing Senator Jim Webb, as heartfelt and sincerely-held “regrets” over having voted for the new health care law:

One of the tragedies of the Obama Administration is the historic political accident that it had 60 Senate Democratic votes in 2009. The ability to break a filibuster without Republican votes empowered the left to think it could pass anything, and so it steamrolled ahead with ObamaCare, which needed every one of those 60 votes to pass.
Now a couple of those Senators are expressing regrets about those votes after the fact. In our pages last week, former Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh rehearsed the looming economic damage from ObamaCare’s medical-device tax. He described, as some of us predicted in 2009 during the debate, how the tax is sending jobs and investment overseas in an industry where the U.S. still leads the world. Mr. Bayh, who retired after 2010, provided the 60th vote for ObamaCare to pass.

Not one mention of Bayh’s employment by McGuire Woods, even though that circumstance had been on the editors’ very own pages just a few days earlier. Do the editors think that their readers don’t read what’s on the opposite page? Or do they just think they're really old and dumb and can’t remember a basic fact from one week to the next? Well, I remember, and I read it all. Though when I see stuff like this, I can't help but wonder if I should keep doing so.

follow me on Twitter @AlecMacGillis